When Virginia Tech arrived in North Carolina, no one expected that Quincy Patterson would be make his collegiate debut or be asked to provide an offensive spark to a Virginia Tech offense that stalled out for most of the game between their opening and closing possessions.
Of course, that’s exactly what happened with Patterson giving Ryan Willis a moment to breathe and helping the Hokies keep some offensive momentum on what would end up being VT’s only drive with points outside of their first and final drives of the game.
The biggest surprise was the use of Patterson in a role that seemed to only be Hendon Hooker’s especially with Patterson simply running a trio of offensive plays. Now the sideline excitement around Patterson after he came off the field after getting a first down on his second carry was quite the cool moment and a great sign of the respect his teammates have for him.
However, the move to use Patterson was definitely surprising and brought up some questions about whether the Hokies were actually considering using the Chicago QB more and were thinking about not redshirting him. When asked about that this week, Justin Fuente had this to say.
“We’ll kind of just take it week by week, as we see how things just go. I really believe it’s just too hard to say exactly what’s going to happen. There’s a lot of football still to play and you know, if he plays in some more games and gets close to that four-game mark, you know we’ve been having those conversations but then we’ll make a decision on it. Obviously, if we do play him and we get past the four games, I want to make it worthwhile,” Fuente said.
Fuente is 100% right in wanting it to be “worthwhile” if Patterson doesn’t redshirt this season and plays in more than four games. The thing is, there is almost no semi-realistic scenario where it would be worthwhile not to redshirt Patterson and use him unlimitedly.
First, Quincy Patterson is a true freshman and has only been on campus since the middle of the summer. Many may bring up Trevor Lawrence starting at Clemson, but Lawrence arrived in the spring and had multiple more months to learn the playbook, build chemistry with receivers, and do the other things that a QB needs to earn a starting job.
Some may bring up James Blackmon starting as a true freshman at Florida State last year after Deondre Francois went down for the season with an injury. However, that was mostly because the Seminoles simply had no other option because all of their expected QB depth was gone with De’Andre Johnson getting dismissed from FSU and Malik Henry transferring away, both of whom were expected to be ahead of Blackmon on the depth chart when FSU recruited those players.
Patterson is a very talented, smart young man, but it’s almost impossible for anyone to learn the playbook well in only a few months no matter your level of intelligence.
Second, if Patterson’s package of plays is going to largely be limited to read options, then the Hokies would be much better off using Hendon Hooker for that role. Going forward, if Patterson is used, expect it to be a larger group of plays than the read option playbook that worked, but can be easy for defenses to pick up on.
Third, the reality of this season is that the Hokies already have two losses and has no chance at making the College Football Playoff. Now that may be the most obvious statement but given how Patterson is the QB of the future for the Hokies, there’s no reason for Virginia Tech to burn his eligibility in a rebuilding year where they have arguably the youngest team in America.
Of course, Virginia Tech has aspirations of winning a wide open ACC Coastal, but is winning a divisional title when you have a young team that will have higher ambitions with Patterson in the future, worth blowing a potential year of eligibility? I think the answer to that question is pretty clear.
Yes, there’s the realistic possibility that Patterson could develop into such a star quarterback that he leaves Blacksburg early, but why throw away the possibility of having an extra year after four years in the program for a season when he most likely isn’t the best option at QB on a team that at best can win a down ACC Coastal and have a longshot chance at upsetting a Clemson team that is significantly better than the rest of the ACC and most of college football this year.
Patterson may be a special talent with a great ceiling, but for this season, Ryan Willis has shown that he is more than capable and in practice, has clearly shown Justin Fuente and company that he is the best option at quarterback for the Hokies’ hopes of winning a Coastal title. Patterson has plenty of star potential and may be the starting QB within the next year or so, but he’s not the best option for this season based on the limited knowledge we know and what the Hokies can do this season.
Yes, it’s very unlikely that the Hokies will do the unthinkable and burn the redshirt of Quincy Patterson, but simply the fact that it is still a distant option on the table is ridiculous. Unless something drastically changes, there doesn’t appear to be any scenario that would be considered even close to being “worthwhile” for burning Patterson’s redshirt.